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How Committed Are You?


Every career path is challenging.

Without question, those who succeed are fully vested. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to reach their goals. They just won’t accept failure. They press on in the face of hardship. They ignore naysayers. They keep going long past the time when others would have quit.

What separates these achievers? Is it luck? Maybe. Is it timing? Possibly. Is it commitment? Definitely.

When you feel stuck in your career or impeded in your pursuits, ask yourself this question? “How committed am I?” You might buck at the question and say, “I am very committed.” But, consider what it takes to be a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery at Washington, D.C. Then ask yourself the same question.

Just take a quick look at the requirements that every guard must meet. Besides meeting these two physical requirements of having a height from 5’ 10” to 6’ 2” and a waistline of 30 inches or less, they must also commit to these promises:

  1. Agree to a two-year commitment of duty.
  2. Speak to no one for the first six months of duty.
  3. Watch no TV for the first six months of duty.
  4. Spend all off duty time memorizing the names, historical significance and location of the 175 distinguished people buried in Arlington National Cemetery (such as President Taft; boxer Joe Lewis; and Medal of Honor recipient, Audie L. Murphy, the most decorated WWII soldier and Hollywood star).
  5. Spend five hours a day cleaning their uniforms.
  6. Check that there are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform.
  7. Live in barracks below the tomb for the entire two years.
  8. Never drink alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives.
  9. Never curse in public for the rest of their lives.
  10. Never disgrace the uniform or the tomb for the rest of their lives.

After two years of service, they receive a wreath pin, which they must wear on their lapel every day of their lives. If they break any of the rules, they are obligated to return the pin. Only 400 pins are being worn today.

To give you an even clearer picture of each guard’s commitment, in 2003, when Hurricane Isabelle was about to hit Washington, both the House and Senate shut down for two days in preparation for the storm. The guards were given permission to be temporarily relieved of their duties. However, they respectfully declined to leave the site unguarded. Instead, their answer was:

Guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment; it’s the highest honor anyone in the service could ever achieve.

They continued their 30-minute shifts, patrolling 21 steps in each direction, and moving the rifle away from the tomb as they turned in the opposite direction. They marched through pelting rain, treacherous winds and in soaked uniforms, refusing to abandon their duties.

Just so you know, the Tomb has been guarded twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, since 1930.

The next time you complain about not meeting your own expectations, think again about the depth of your commitment.

Could you never ever drink alcohol again? Could you never curse in public? Could you not speak to anyone or not watch TV for six months? Could you live in barracks under your office for two years? Could you march outside in the middle of a hurricane and feel proud to do so?

Do you see your job as an obligation or a privilege? Do you consider your work ordinary or something sacred? Do you feel emotionally suppressed or spiritually uplifted?

If you approach each day with reverence, perhaps you’ll find the sanctity in one small project. Why not commit yourself fully to the most mundane task? What could you learn from doing it? How much easier would it be if you approached it with enthusiasm instead of dread? Did you ever think that maybe your greatest challenges were actually in your life just to strengthen your character?

What if you considered your inner core as a sacred site and guarded it as these soldiers do: day after day, year after year and decade after decade? What if you fully committed to your dreams?

If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you could look at it two ways. You could use it as 1) the catalyst to try something else or 2) the impetus to rekindle your commitment.

Remember…without commitment there is no honor.

Read more posts by Margo Berman. Margo is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.


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2 Responses to "How Committed Are You?"

  1. Stacy K says:

    Margo, this is fabulous. I appreciate you sharing the intense level of commitment necessary to hold that position…it sheds a whole new light on the meaning of “committed”. Cheers!

  2. Claire Butler says:

    Hi Margo! I’ve been reading your blog posts – having worked in advertising at NCR Corp as a young twenty-something (30 years ago), I relate! Advertising was the most energetic and enjoyable job I ever had. At the time I was in school studying English and Art History, and have since become an artist and writer. Never having had an art lesson in my life, I took to paint and brush and now am committed with a studio in downtown Cincinnati. However, my first love is writing, and I’m just now taking measures to incorporate writing publicly into my life. Thanks for the inspiration!

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